Raytheon Taps Environmental Business

Company's largest commercial contract ever will help Brazil keep track of its rich natural resources

Developing countries aren't traditionally thought of as hot spots for technology business opportunity. But some companies now see a gold mine in Third World nations that want to protect their natural resources while developing their economy.

In fact, Lexington, Mass.-based Raytheon recently signed a $1.3 billion deal with the Brazilian government to provide a network of communications and information data-gathering technologies that will help the government get a handle on the depletion of its rain forest and other resources. The agreement is Raytheon's largest commercial contract in its 73-year history.

"We've taken defense technologies and applied them to environmental monitoring," said Larry Capps, Raytheon's program manager for environmental monitoring. And the market in helping countries remotely monitor their environment -- using satellite images, communications systems and other information technologies -- is ripe, Capps said. Raytheon estimates the market will be worth $20 billion over the next 10 to 15 years.

Judging from the industry interest the Brazilian contract stirred up, other companies are also seeing green in the environmental monitoring market. Companies from 16 different countries expressed interest in the deal and four large teams ended up bidding on the project. One team was led by Raytheon, another by Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys (which has since sold that unit to Loral), a third by the French Thomson-CSF team and another was led by the German DASA group.

The Raytheon team includes several Brazilian companies, such as IBM-Brazil, as well as The Analytical Sciences Corp. in North Reading, Mass., which is an expert in processing weather information, Expersoft of San Diego, Calif., which specializes in knowledge-based reasoning systems and the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

Raytheon's experience in systems integration and communications helped them win the project, which begins in the fall. The contract will take about five years to implement, then two years to help the Brazilians train and maintain the system on their own. It is supposed to help the Brazilian government correct the resource depletion occurring in the South American nation.

The Amazon Basin contains one-third of the Earth's tropical forests in an area of more than 5.2 million square kilometers -- more than half the size of the United States. The region also contains more than 50 percent of the Earth's known plant and animal species. But the rich resources of the Amazon are at risk from deforestation and wildlife destruction, illegal mining and drug trafficking. With its new communications systems, the Brazilian government will use images taken from satellites and data from airborne sensors flown on Brazilian aircraft to monitor legal and illegal activities in the Brazilian rain forest.

The planned communications system is primarily voice and data communications. It will link the information from radar systems, computers located in four control centers and computers in government agencies. The system will also improve communications in the Amazon, where many moderately sized villages have only one telephone link to the outside world.

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